New York judge declines to make ruling in daily fantasy sports case

25 November 2015
After a hearing that lasted more than an hour longer than originally planned, a Supreme Court judge today declined to issue a ruling on a request by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for an injunction requesting to immediately shut down daily fantasy sports companies from operating in the Empire State.

Judge Manuel Mendez heard the attorney general's case first and then from lawyers representing the two major DFS operators – DraftKings and FanDuel – before listening to rebuttals from each side. He then announced there would be no decision today, and according to reports on Twitter, he concluded by saying, “You will get my decision. It will come very soon.”

Jeff Ifrah, founding partner of Ifrah Law in Washington, D.C. who specializes on iGaming Law, was following the case closely today and told Casino City he would expect a decision "sometime before Christmas."

Ifrah said one of the main points of discussion today was the AG's statement that season-long fantasy sports leagues are legal and daily fantasy sports are not. Lawyers from DraftKings and FanDuel predictably pounced on this view and may have scored points with the judge, since one of only two questions asked from the bench today zeroed in on this point.

"I don't think this was a concession the attorney general needed to make, but once they did, it created some exposure and the defense team took that argument and drove a truck through it," Ifrah said. "It had the judge openly scratching his head and when he asked the attorney general for an explanation, I don't think the answer was satisfactory."

Nonetheless, Ifrah doesn't feel as though there was a clear victory for either side today, even if the case made by DFS operators was a bit more polished and compelling, as reported on Twitter by Attorney Daniel Wallach, who was in the crowded courtroom today.

"It doesn't take much experience to get a job representing the attorney general's office as an assistant," Ifrah said. "They were up against some lawyers hired by the DFS operators that are highly skilled and more experienced, so it's not surprise they did the better job advocating their case.

"With that said, I think it's very unlikely that today's oral arguments are going to have an impact on the decision. I believe the judge already knows how he is going to rule and today's hearing was more of just a courtesy."

He also feels that since the attorney general is "an elected official by the people of New York" it may be a bit more difficult than usual to rule in favor of the DFS industry.

"The 'elected official' point is never lost on an elected judge," he explained. "Especially when the precise answer to the case isn't immediately clear or apparent."

Since the attorney general filed a cease-and-desist order, FanDuel has stopped doing business in New York, but DraftKings has continued to operate.

Hours after the hearing, DraftKings e-mailed an update to its customers in New York assuring its players that it was still very much in business.

The e-mail read, in part, "Today, the New York Supreme Court heard our argument for keeping our game accessible for all players in New York. Our position was the same as it has always been: that DFS is a game of skill, one that builds community and whose competitive spirit has become central to the lives of millions of people."

"At the hearing's conclusion, the Court determined that it would reserve its decision and that it would make a ruling sometime in the near future. This means that you can continue to play as usual in New York. Your status as a player will in no way be affected before a final determination is reached by the Court."

It then went on to offer a link in which people could add their name to the DK Players Alliance.